Indian sprint legend Milkha Singh succumbed to post COVID-19 complications Friday night after a month-long battle with the virus. He was 91.
The four-time Asian Games gold medallist is survived by 14-time international winner and golfer son Jeev Milkha Singh and three daughters – Mona Singh, Sonia Singh and Aleeza Grover.
Earlier this week, Milkha’s wife, Nirmal Kaur, a former India volleyball captain, also lost her battle with Coronavirus at the same hospital where the legendary sprinter breathed his last.
Milkha Singh had tested positive for the virus on May 20 and was admitted to a private hospital in Mohali on May 24. He had been discharged on May 30 before he was admitted to the Covid ward at the Nehru Hospital Extension at PGIMER on June 3 due to significant dip in oxygen levels.
The former Indian athlete had tested negative on Thursday earlier this week and was shifted to the medical Intensive Care Unit. His condition deteriorated Friday evening as he developed complications, including fever and dipping oxygen saturation levels.
He will be cremated in Chandigarh on Saturday evening with full state honours.
The Punjab government will also observe a day of state mourning in the wake of the passing away of the track and field legend.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who took to Twitter to express his condolences over Singh’s demise, described him as a colossal sportsperson who captured the nation’s imagination.
“In the passing away of Shri Milkha Singh Ji, we have lost a colossal sportsperson, who captured the nation’s imagination and had a special place in the hearts of countless Indians. His inspiring personality endeared himself to millions. Anguished by his passing away,” he tweeted.
Several other politicians, actors and sportspersons also paid their glowing tributes to the sprint legend.
India skipper Virat Kohli mourned the demise of Milkha Singh and said the track legend’s legacy inspired the whole nation to aim for excellence.
“A legacy that inspired a whole nation to aim for excellence. To never give up and chase your dreams. Rest in Peace #MilkhaSingh ji. You will never be forgotten,” Kohli shared a picture of him with the legendary athlete on Twitter.
Bollywood actor Farhan Akhtar, who played the role of Milkha Singh in ‘Bhaag Milkha Bhaag’, penned a moving post for the four-time Asian Games gold medallist.
“A part of me is still refusing to accept that you are no more. Maybe it’s the stubborn side I inherited from you.. the side that when it sets it’s mind on something, just never gives up. And the truth is that you will always be alive. Because you were more than a large hearted, loving, warm, down to earth man. You represented an idea. You represented a dream. You represented (to use your own words) how hard work, honesty and determination can lift a person off his knees and get him to touch the sky. You have touched all our lives. For those who knew you as a father and a friend, it was a blessing. For those who didn’t, your story was as a constant source of inspiration and a reminder of humility in success. I love you with all my heart,” Farhan wrote.
Popularly referred to as the ‘Flying Sikh’, Milkha Singh made his name in the track and field, winning four gold medals at the Asian Games. He also won a gold at the 1958 Commonwealth Games in Cardiff.
He narrowly missed out on an Olympic medal, finishing fourth at the 400m final of the 1960 Rome Games.